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Art of Science image titled Ad astra per aspera
Ad astra per aspera

Scientist Collaborators Yee Ming Khaw, and Mayandi Sivaguru

Makoto Inoue Laboratory Group

Zeiss Axiovert 200M

Funded by MI start up

As our understanding of biology has developed, so too have the types of questions we ask. The concept of biology as a single coherent field arose in the 19th century, emerging from traditions of medicine and natural history. Scientists studied what they could observe with their naked eye, making breakthroughs in botany and zoology. After the invention of microscopes, their questions become increasingly detail-oriented: what are cells made up of and how do the molecules interact with each other?

Confocal microscopy, represented in the image, allows us to light up molecules like stars in the night sky. The technique helps scientists observe how cellular components are arranged, creating a picture of zipping molecules in the busy metropolis of a cell. Set up like the abstract tapestries in Barnet Newman paintings, the two sides represent the feeling of a microscope trying to focus from the bigger picture of a mouse hippocampal neuron seen in a bright-field microscope to the inner details brought out by a confocal microscope.